Comedy | If Joe Lycett then you should have put a ring on it

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photo: Graeme Copper

Joe Lycett is fairly new on the comedy scene but he’s sure to be a household name soon. After receiving the Best Newcomer award at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2012, the 25-year-old stand-up comedian has also appeared on many TV and radio shows. Recent appearances include 8 Out of 10 Cats, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Celebrity Juice, as well as providing the narration to ITV2’s Magaluf Weekender. He talks to LSi about his experiences as a comedian and his current tour.

Lycett’s show, ‘If Joe Lycett Then You Should’ve Put a Ring On It’, has just started touring in the UK and he tells us it got off to good start. Having only played Warwick so far, he says that he’s looking forward to coming up north next week to play Leeds, York and Hull, “The big three!”.

He describes the show as being sort of an amalgamation of all his best material and for this reason it’s taken him years to pull it all together. However, he says the main part of the show was written in the last 18 months, writing the bulk of it for his Edinburgh Fringe show last year.

Lycett describes his writing as being a “sort of mixed” process. He’s constantly jotting things down in his phone whenever he or someone else says something funny, or if there’s something that could be embellished to comedic event. He also has a little office in Birmingham where he goes and talks to himself and ideas come from there. “I also sit down and work through ideas with just a pad and pen as well but it’s a lot of pacing around talking to myself. It sounds like madness doesn’t it? It probably is madness! My writing process is being mentally unstable”

For the majority of us, there are few things that would be more nerve-wracking than performing stand-up comedy. But Lycett says that for him, nerves aren’t too much of a battle anymore, “it is a bit nerve wracking, but not crippling so. I don’t know how I dealt with nerves early on! I just sort of did it and then, yeah I don’t know… I used to smoke back then so maybe that’s what helped!” Lycett points out that nerves are good, they show that you care; it’s that energy that can push you to do a really good show and if you’re not nervous that’s when it’s worrying because then you’re too chilled about it.

Photo: Andy Hollingworth

Lycett studied drama at Manchester University and “loved it!” It was there that he discovered his love for stand-up comedy. “It was my second year of uni and my first gig was at the Comedy Store as part of a group of students at the uni doing this thing called Just for Laughs. The sketch group that became Lady Garden and are now Birthday Girls were there. And Jack Whitehall and a few other folk, so it was quite an interesting evening really.” Then he adds: “Well, I say it was my first gig, my first actual gig when I was drunk at a King Gong show about half a year before and they asked if anyone wanted to go up. I thought, Yeah I’ll have a go, I can do better than this!, in my drunken stupor. I couldn’t, and I fell off the  stage and it was a full on slapstick catastrophe!”

Lycett’s preferred comedians are ones that have a different style to his own. He thoroughly recommends the American comedian, Tig Notaro; “I saw her in Montreal last year and she’s incredible” and says that comedians who work with one liners, such as Gary Delaney and Tim Vine, are amazing. “When I watch comics that are similar in style I end up not laughing because I’m working out what they’ve done and analysing, whereas when I watch Tim Vine… I’ll never be able to do what Tim Vine does because he’s so unique and amazing that I just sit back and enjoy it”.

According to Lycett, hecklers aren’t as much of a problem for comedians as people think, “I don’t get heckled that much, I pick on the audience more than they pick on me! I always go in in a nice way, I’m not like a horrible comedian!” He says that it’s generally just people getting involved and usually it’s quite easy to deal with as the rest of the audience are on your side, they don’t want the heckler to be the focus of evening. “You sound disappointed! You sound like you would have preferred, “Yeah when I get heckled I crack their necks and kick ‘em to the ground!”

When asked which, out of all the different shows he’s worked on he’s preferred he admits, “do you know what? I really loved doing Magaluf, its one of my favourite jobs that I’ve ever had because it’s just ridiculous. I just get to slag off teenagers for money! Love that!” But he says they’re all good fun in their own way; 8 Out of 10 Cats he finds quite stressful because he’s up against comics like Jimmy Carr and Sean Lock who he describes as “amazing”, so he finds it quite an intense process. Whereas Celebrity Juice “is just a piss about really. There’s Holly Willoughby’s giving out gin before we go on so it doesn’t feel like you’re doing a telly show, it just feels like you’re getting pissed with people off the telly and someone happens to be filming it, it’s a strange one!” He’s enjoyed all the shows he’s worked on but says that stand-up is still his preferred mode of performance, “You can’t beat it really. It’s so pure, there’s so much you can do with it.”

So what’s in store for Joe in the future? “Well, the tour is on-going so death will come after that, at some point! But I’m doing some bits of telly development and possibly the Edinburgh festival and I go to Melbourne in April for the Melbourne Comedy Festival, so there’s quite a lot going on. But i’m going to try and eat and maybe watch some telly in-between.”

Joe Lycett is playing The Wardrobe in Leeds on the 12th of February, tickets priced at £10

 Claire Matthews

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